Doing Your Part....are YOU ready?

This year there will be several opportunities to perform in an Accordion Orchestra at such venues as the Texas Accordion Association Convention, the ATG and AAA Conventions, so we thought we would ask you..... Are You Ready?
by Sydney Dawson

Every musician enjoys a good rehearsal, but when it is bad, the director is generally blamed... many times he seems in a terrible mood. Nearly every one has tried at some time to play on an old instrument. To have even one key stick or one that refuses to play is very annoying. The Ensemble is the instrument of the director.

When someone thoughtlessly comes in late, it is just the same as a key that did not respond instantly. If a key on your accordion had a habit of sounding at the wrong time and you know that it did it on purpose, you would probably throw the accordion out the window. That is what the director often feels like doing. To make matters worse, generally he dare not say a word... he might hurt someone's feelings. No wonder he is crabby and there is a bad rehearsal. He knows rehearsal time is precious... every minute must count.

When it is necessary for him to stop to explain something he wants attention. It is irritating to make a detailed explanation and then have someone ask what he has said. If a musician was playing an instrument and had to concentrate every moment on keeping the instrument from falling apart, the performance would be very mediocre. The director will get little accomplished if he has to use his vitality to keep the proper respect and conduct. If he can put all his energy into interpretation the performance will probably be inspiring!

Many times members are not in sympathy with the director's' interpretation. If the director feels that a passage should be fast they try to play it slow. Whether a director's interpretation is right or wrong, he should be respected.

A good rule to follow: Ask yourself what would happen if all members of the ensemble did the same thing. Would it help the ensemble or hinder it? If you wished to say something to a neighbor, what would happen if everyone would do the same thing. If you wanted to practice a passage while the director was talking, what would happen if all the members started to practice? If on the other hand, you were attentive and listened to the director with the hopes of learning something, would it help of hinder the rehearsal if all other members did the same thing?

Ensemble success depends upon coordination and cooperation. Probably there is nothing greater than the fine coordination of an ensemble of musicians. There are 16 different things that must be known about a single note before it can be played properly and at times hundreds of notes are played per minute. The split second timing by musicians in ensemble make all other sports seem like a group of old ladies playing tiddlywinks. A Babe Ruth, who can judge a fast ball and knock a home run is greatly admired, but that fast ball is slow molasses compared to some of the notes in Allegro and prestissimo tempos. Imagine 30, 40, or 100 Babe Ruth's swinging their bats at that many balls and all knocking home runs simultaneously, yet ensembles knock thousands of split-second home runs at every performance.

The following is a test for you to use. Grade 5 points for each question that you can honestly answer yes to. If your grade is above 85 you may consider yourself a good member. If you are between 65 and 85, you need to do a little work on the questions you have answered no to. If you have less than 65, you are not doing your share and had better find out why!


  1. Do you have the best instrument that you can afford?
  2. Do you keep it in good condition?
  3. Do you practice daily on your band work?
  4. Are you in your place and ready to play at the time rehearsal starts?
  5. Do you ever offer to do anything extra not demanded o you, such as putting up chairs, passing out music, etc...?
  6. Are you like by other band members?
  7. Will you willingly play any part... 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th... that your director asks you to play?
  8. Do you follow faithfully the rehearsal routine and discipline?
  9. Are you always prepared, with hand in position to play the first note on the down beat?
  10. Do you accept criticism form you director in good spirit?
  11. Do you play so that you can hear the instruments on both sides of you at all times?
  12. Do you make an effort to memorize the music at particular times, such as ferrets, releases, attacks, etc... in order to watch the director?
  13. At rehearsals, do you try to keep the same posture as you would at a concert?
  14. Even though you are not in sympathy with the director's interpretation do you sincerely try to carry out their directions?
  15. Even though you are sitting next to someone you do not like, do you try to play your best?
  16. Are you always careful to see that you have all your music with you before attending rehearsals?
  17. Do you honestly make an effort to attend all rehearsals?
  18. Would you rather have a person compliment the ensemble as a whole than compliment your individual work in it?
  19. Do you try to anticipate the director's interpretation and cooperate with them?
  20. Do you think there are other members in the band who can play better than you?